|After hearing a (rather bogus sounding) mathematical proof that
civilization is headed for disaster, mathematician Cornelius Taine
"sets in motion" this unusual science fiction novel that takes us
through "the manifold" (Baxter's term for the collection of universes
of which ours is only one point). See the review by
Fernando Q. Gouvea at the MAA website for more info.
"I don't see the importance of the squid subplot, and I think
NASA is underserved of the level of antagonism Baxter shows, but overall I loved the
story. I am also skeptical of the speed with which the Moon was `colonized'", as well as the
presence of the `Air and Space Forces'. I think Baxter makes some pretty big leaps
there... bigger than his quantum speculations."
really loved this story, though I
think Dr. Baxter makes some pretty optimistic jumps with what
technology will be capable of in the next ten years.
Intelligent, space-faring squid? A bit implausible to me.
Baxter has shown some pessimism towards NASA in other works,
and this one is no exception. I'd like to believe that the
American space program is not dead, but it does seem to be in
the shadow of it's past glories these days. As purely
fiction, though, I enjoyed it immensely. This is prime
Baxter for you: BIG, BIG ideas, and people who try to deal
with them. Very fun to read, and I would highly recommend it
to other science junkies and geeks like myself."
"The most plausible hypothesis for the
purpose of humanity I've ever
encountered lies at the end of this
rollercoaster of fiction."
"The mathematical prediction of the
human races extinction that is central
to the plot is genuine (which doesn't
make it valid) and has been around for
about 20 years. There are two sequels
(less mathematical, but good stories)
to the book."
I really liked this book for the same
reason I like most Stephen Baxter
books, the epic plot! This one is no
exception. The ending is quite
rewarding after reading through the
rest of the book. Let's just say that
the plot really doesn't pick up until
1/2 way in or so. It is worth the
read, though. Baxter has some very
interesting ideas about humans and the
The Carter catastrophe seems to defy
common sense, but according to a number
of sources, it is a real idea in
statistics! Doesn't mean you have to
like it, though. :)
The next book, Manifold Space, is also
good. It is a bit confusing, though,
unles you realize that the books take
place in seperate universes where
things went very differently than in
the first book!
I recommed it to anyone interested in
I was turned off this by the spurious central mathematical idea - which I had previously encountered, but not sure where.
I forget the name of the theory, as I actually want to look into it more - it is invalid on grounds of logic, regardless of any mathematical merit (!) it may have.
Anyway, off to see if I can find it on the net somewhere!